American Government Propose SOPA Revival Amidst Piracy Increase Claims

While the idea of internet censorship in America was soundly rejected by the entire global internet community minus a very powerful few, it appears as though defeat for the proposed SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) bill last year has not been the death of the idea just yet, after a provision of that bill has reportedly been ‘revived’.

us_department_commerce_badgeInitiated by the United State Department of Commerce, the proposal is suggesting that US Congress increase the penalties that they issue for streaming copyrighted work, reviving a provision from the failed Stop Online Piracy Act.

The report from the department (“Copyright Policy, Creativity and Innovation in the Digital Economy”) has made the proposal to Congress that a section of SOPA be reconsidered, enabling the justice system to ‘heavily penalize’ those that upload ‘select content’ to online streaming services without permission, implemented to the extent of potential ‘felony convictions’ for people ‘caught streaming’ any copyrighted content (such as music and video), with some of the more extreme reactions to the news suggesting that this means uploading ‘homemade covers’ of content to the internet would also be illegal.

Current legislation leaves the more severe of the above offences classed as a ‘misdemeanor’ that is not enforced to the point of arrest (except in extreme cases of a website dedicated to such practices such as the Megavideo site), and any proposed changes to the fairly balanced status quo will be met with outrage by all SOPA opponents (which through their actions last year include Google and Wikipedia), especially considering the ‘felony’ proposal would place any offences in the same bracket as heinous crimes such as murder, rape, arson, and treason.

A report from the task force, however, claim that their effort in this department: “…repeats the administration’s prior call for Congress to enact legislation adopting the same range of penalties for criminal streaming of copyrighted works to the public as now exists for criminal reproduction and distribution.”

That suggestion was recognized by several sources as last being seen as ‘Section 201′ in the SOPA bill, with the re-suggestion triggering fears that it could be revived if the task force are listened to. The report from the Department of Commerce notes:

“In recent years a number of licensed online video streaming services have launched, and many cable television providers offer extensive on-demand catalogs to their subscribers. Other services have launched without licenses, using technology developed to transmit individual streams from individually-made copies, rather than broadcasting to the public from a single source copy. These services, which rely on recent case law in the context of a cable operator with underlying content licenses, pose a challenge to the traditional dividing lines between public and private performance, and raise a host of questions. If any consumer can stream the content she wants on-demand, is this act ‘public’ as defined by the Copyright Act if the technology is structured so that the stream comes from a copy made by a third party for each individual? Does it make a difference if the consumer already has legal access in another form to the content being streamed? Does it matter how the source copies are made, and by whom? Such interpretive tensions in the face of changing delivery models are the inevitable result of a system based on a bundle of specific rights, each drafted in the context of then-existing technologies.

“The lack of potential felony penalties for criminal acts of streaming disincentivizes prosecution and undermines deterrence. The administration and the Copyright Office have both called on Congress to amend the Copyright Act to ensure that illegal streaming to the public can be punished as a felony in the same manner as other types of criminal infringement. The Task Force now repeats that call. While the willfully infringing reproduction and distribution of copyrighted works can be punished as a felony, willful violations of the public performance right are punishable only as misdemeanors. This discrepancy is an increasingly significant impediment to the effective deterrence and criminal prosecution of unauthorized streaming. Since the most recent updates to the criminal copyright provisions, streaming (both audio and video) has become a significant if not dominant means for consumers to enjoy content online. The Administration and the Copyright Office have both called on Congress to amend the Copyright Act to ensure that illegal streaming to the public can be punished as a felony in the same manner as other types of criminal infringement.”

While there are natural requests from content owners made in order to protect their content, the idea that anyone watching or viewing such content (in the latter case, sometimes unknowingly) will be treated as a high-value criminal, while it would be unclear how the USA would be able to enforce the bill for their content around the world without convincing other territories to join them in a “no ‘piracy’ tolerated” stance.

If the reform proposal does come to pass, the natural order of business would suggest that those campaigning to have their content protected from piracy would increase their digital prices rather than lower them in the absence of third-party streaming, because the consumers would be left with choices of ‘paying those prices or going to jail’. However, that hypothetical scenario would also in turn enhance the people’s incentive to pirate (presumably from foreign domains hosting the content), and a vicious cycle would continue…

14 Comments

  1. Andy
    Andy September 6, 2013 at 5:00 pm

    So if I get this correct, anyone who is caught of streaming music, movies, TV shows, or anything else that is copyrighted, they would be charged with a felony, and the punishment would carry the same penalty and just be as harsh as if someone did any of these heinous crimes such as murder, rape, arson, and treason? If so, than we really have a bigger problem in this county than we really think, yes, streaming music, movies, TV shows, or anything else that is copyrighted without permission is wrong, but that should be a civil court where whoever’s content was streamed they should sue the person who was doing the streaming. I really did not think that we don’t have enough people locked up. I just can’t understand how anyone can compare online piracy to heinous crime. A heinous crime, someone’s life is altered in such a way that they need time to recover; need to see a shrink, lost a lime, a loved one by a wrongful death.

    Also if I go to some website, and this website is streaming, let’s say CNN, and I watch the live stream I am just as guilty as the person who is doing the streaming?

  2. skye
    skye September 6, 2013 at 7:29 pm

    so pretty much this means girls wouldn’t be aloud to FANGIRL. stupidest idea EVER. I wouldn’t be able to make edits with pictures from movies I like, no one would be able to roleplay, no more fanfiction, no more gifs, practically the end of tumblr, and the end of the FANGIRL NATION. HORRID IDEA. yes, I understand the theory behind this, but millions of girls across America would find themselves without one of their favorite things in the world: FANDOMS.

  3. Andrew
    Andrew September 7, 2013 at 1:23 am

    Complete nonsense, but what else can one expect from the crooks up in Washington? SOPA was, is and will always be draconian garbage and the only place it truly belongs is in the trash.

  4. ANON
    ANON September 7, 2013 at 7:26 pm

    uhm, this is dumb… a bunch of things teenagers would use would be gone, I mean seriously all the people including me would be unable to write fanfiction, If we write we make sure we make it known that we don’t own any of the content we write about… this is dumb and people would loose so much stuff they love.

  5. Servonix
    Servonix September 7, 2013 at 9:31 pm

    Will they EVER FREAKING STOP!? SOPA won’t fix stuff as much as it will wreck sites and businesses! It could kill fandom and put people in jail for so much as just watching tv shows on some random site! The people who really need to be put in jail are people who commit FAR more illegal crimes like murder, rape, arson, and treason! NOT people who are innocently watching a tv show or movie on a random site!

  6. acid
    acid September 8, 2013 at 1:44 pm

    Go in for streaming movies, and come out as a hardened criminal…wow nice solution

  7. Lana Lorenzen
    Lana Lorenzen September 8, 2013 at 3:23 pm

    I don’t think the ultimate end of SOPA, or any part of it, is to stop people from downloading copyrighted music, video, etc. I believe the real purpose behind it is to stop criticism of government and corporate activities. Every corporate name and logo are copyrighted. If you can’t actually name the offending, copyrighted group it makes it much more difficult to criticize them publically.

  8. Jeff Collett
    Jeff Collett September 9, 2013 at 11:20 am

    Just a small point … The Happy Birthday song is protected so if you sing that song at any time, you must first have gotten permission from the rights holder and paid a fee. This is why many restaurants in the USA do not sing the song but instead make one up like happy, happy birthday with lots of clapping.
    So you can be put into federal prison if you upload a Vine clip of you singing Happy Birthday to your 1 year old. Think about that. They won’t throw everyone in jail but they sure can use this as leverage against you in order for you to do something for them like spy on your neighbor or something. Germans have a recent enough memory of these kinds of practices (Stasi) to recoil at such talk but here in America, I’m not so sure. The US Constitution’s protective powers were effectively neutered by the Patriot Act; people are slowly waking to that fact but I am not sure if is happening in time.

  9. bob
    bob September 9, 2013 at 11:28 am

    It is time the American people tell their government, that we do not agree with the laws they are trying to put into place. It’s time we take a stand.

  10. kaye
    kaye September 9, 2013 at 3:21 pm

    we americans have more to worry about then people downloading music and videos. its absurd. It would be treated as a horrific crime shows me our society is $!!e.$ lets go after real criminals.

  11. Anonymous
    Anonymous September 9, 2013 at 7:55 pm

    Wait. So this means it was passed? What? SOPA was passed? What about those poor innocent fangirls including me that practically live their life on tumblr? What’ll happen now? fanfiction.net will go down, no singing covers of songs on YouTube, no posting fanart. People that write fanfiction, sing covers, and draw fanart are just doing what they love. This is not right. I don’t get why America can’t just focus on the bigger problems.

  12. Haley
    Haley September 10, 2013 at 11:35 am

    I just don’t understand why they cant focus on more important things like murderers. My life revolves around fangirling, fan-fiction, fan-art, and covering songs. MY LIFE REVOLVES AROUND IT!! It is literally all I do. I’m 15 for God’s sake and for me in my personal issues its the only thing that makes living worth the while.

    I don’t see em getting away with this.

    1- I can still write fanfiction. I just wont post it.
    2- I’ll still cover songs just wont post it.
    3- i WILL still do fan-art, I just wont post it I’ll email it through an actual adress. -__- they don’t think things through.

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